ICYMI: Kemp Rejects Millions in Federal Funding to Feed Hungry Georgia Kids

January 9, 2024

Today, new reporting revealed that Brian Kemp turned down tens of millions of dollars in federal funding to feed Georgia kids who rely on school lunch during the summer. Kemp declined to accept an estimated $138 million in funding for the Summer EBT program, which could have benefited more than a million Georgia children at risk of going hungry. 

“It’s inexcusable that Governor Kemp had an opportunity to prevent Georgia kids in low-income families from going hungry, and he simply said no,” said DPG spokesperson Ellie Schwartz. “With tens of millions of federal funding on the table and an $11 billion state budget surplus, how can Kemp justify opting out of reducing child hunger in Georgia?”

Read the story from 11Alive below:

11Alive: Georgia opts out of tens of millions in federal food assistance aimed at reducing child hunger during the summer months

Liza Lucas, 1/8/2023

Key Points:

  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s office confirms the Peach State will not participate in a new federal program aimed at reducing child hunger during the summer months.
  • The state’s decision to opt out means rejecting tens of millions in federal funding intended to support low-income families.
  • The decision by state leaders comes as the USDA launches the new Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children (Summer EBT) program for the summer of 2024. According to the USDA, benefits would supplement existing Summer Nutrition Programs, SNAP and WIC and will come in the form of funds pre-loaded onto cards which families can use to buy groceries. Eligible children, the majority of which are those who qualify for free or reduced lunch, will receive $120 in food benefits over the summer ($40 per month).
  • While more than 30 states indicated to the USDA they will participate in the federal program this year, Georgia will not.
  • The decision comes as nearly 64% of Georgia public school students currently qualify for free and reduced lunch, indicating more than 1 million children in the state could have qualified for the benefits the USDA offered. The nonprofit Food Research & Action Center estimates that would have resulted in more than $138 million in benefits for Georgia families this summer, a time advocates say can be detrimental for students dependent on school meals.
  • While the state would have to cover 50% of administrative costs to implement Summer EBT program, which would mean about $4.5 million annually, the Seamless Summer option and Happy Helpings are also federally funded summer programs. The Governor’s Office did not answer 11Alive’s follow up questions about the state’s administrative costs for those programs, nor whether the governor considered using funds from the $11 billion surplus in order to bring the Summer EBT program to Georgia.
  • While the deadline for states to participate for summer 2024 passed as of Jan. 1, advocates hope state leaders will consider the program in the future.
  • “Each year Georgia’s schools serve about a million students through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and when schools let out for summer, those children still need to eat,” Kelcie Silvio, Senior Policy Analyst with Voices for Georgia’s Children, said in an email to 11Alive. “Historically, many of those children have been unable to participate in summer meal programs. Summer EBT would be one efficient way to help families put food on the table for their children. Unfortunately, while it may be too late for this year, we are hopeful the state considers Summer EBT for 2025.”


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